“Can you stop bumping into me?”
His stupid grin returned.
We resolved into silence once again. I couldn’t stop plucking the grass from between my legs.
I. Should. Stop.
But there seemed to be an incomprehensible rut that my hands had fallen into. The insatiable pleasure of watching my them stained with mud and the occasional grass cuts appeared a little amusing. Also, they provided a perfect distraction from the talk I had been long planning to have.
In case I didn’t mention, that is also why I had called him here.
As I pulled out grass for the hundredth time (I wouldn’t deny I wasn’t counting), his palm grabbed my wrist preventing any rebellion that could have begun. He didn’t say anything. His hands were strong and I agree I couldn’t move mine anymore, but his touch was quite the opposite. He held my hand with a kind of fragileness I didn’t even handle myself with. It wasn’t soft or anything. in fact, I could pretty much feel the winter dead skin his hands were shedding. He hated it. They made him feel old and wary of change. But I always said to him “It’s just autumn in your hands.”
He placed my hands in my lap and let me be.
“Are you listening to yourself?” he asked.
“I haven’t said anything.”
“Exactly.” That stupid grin.
He gave up, physically. Finally laying back on the grass with his eyes staring straight into the almost-fading urban glare of the stars, his body relaxed. He hadn’t given up emotionally, I knew.
I did the same.
I felt ready. But before I could even begin my explanation, or rather a lack thereof, he spoke, “I know.”
My body stiffened and tears came to an uncertain halt in the deep end of my throat.
“You’ve been wanting to go for a long time. I figured it out a few weeks ago. I just didn’t think it was going to be so soon.” He paused but I didn’t think it was my turn to start speaking yet. He wasn’t talking to me. He was in the process of understanding, loud and clear. He didn’t want an explanation. None of us ever did. It was always too easy to know what the other had been going through and yet it was hard at the same time.
“I thought I could stop you. I tried, too. Until, eventually, I came to understand that it wasn’t me you wanted to get away from. It was someplace else, some succinct idea of a place you didn’t know either. I was a little let down, to be honest. It has just been so long. I didn’t think that feeling would last. You mentioned it on our first date and I have never forgotten it. I hoped it was just a fantasy you saw yourself moving towards. Frankly, I didn’t think you had the guts. But the surety in your voice, that night, was indelible.”
My muddy hand found its way towards his. Gently wrapping my palm around his hand, our linear destinies overlapping at crossroads, I felt the minute shiver that ran through his body.
I didn’t have much left to say but I tried anyway.
“If ever I had to come back, I’d come back to you.”
“I know. That’s the part I don’t like.”